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To ask Her Majesty's Government how many schools, and of what types, the Secretary of State for Education has visited in this and the previous academic year; and whether there are any schools which the Secretary of State has visited on more than one occasion.[HL16013]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education has visited the following schools during this academic year (2011-12):
To ask Her Majesty's Government why the National Addiction Centre has withdrawn its May 2011 report on benzodiazepines and other prescribed drugs; whether any specific errors were identified in the report; and what new data and new evidence have since become available.[HL16316]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The literature review commissioned from the National Addiction Centre remains available. Details of how to obtain copies can be found at: www. kcl.ac.uk/iop/depts/addictions/research/drugs/ benzodiazepinesz-drugsandcodeineproducts.aspx
My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Anne Milton), Department of Health, convened a round-table meeting of expert stakeholders in September to discuss the future action required to tackle addiction to prescription and over-the-counter medicines. The group identified a number of concrete actions to take forward which are now the main focus of work in this area. Progress against these actions will be reviewed when the group reconvenes on 15 March.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the proportion of the total budget of the World Bank spent on reproductive health projects in 2011; and what assessment they have made of the World Bank's disbursement of the funds mostly as loans and not grants.[HL16285]
Baroness Northover: The coalition Government conducted a Multilateral Aid Review (MAR) in March 2011, which looked at all of the global development agencies we work with-including the World Bank's International Development Association (IDA)-and evaluated their impact and value for money. Overall, IDA was identified as providing very good value for money. The MAR did not specifically examine the World Bank's financial support to reproductive health. However, investment in reproductive health saves lives and is highly cost-effective and we welcome the increased focus on this area demonstrated by development of the World Bank Reproductive Health Action Plan 2010-2015.
The UK Government's policy is that the terms on which financial assistance is provided should be determined by what a developing country can afford. The World Bank only lends money to countries that can repay the loan. For low-income countries, lending
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To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of whether aid organisations are subsidising the occupation by Israel of territory in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in the light of the responsibilities of an occupying power to look after the civilian population as stated in the fourth Hague convention of 1907.[HL16311]
Baroness Northover: The UK considers Israel to be the occupying power in Gaza, the West Bank and east Jerusalem with resultant obligations under international humanitarian law, as set out under the fourth Hague convention of 1907 and the fourth Geneva convention of 1949. The support given to the Palestinian people by aid organisations does not affect Israel's obligations under international law for actions it takes in respect of the Occupied Palestinian Territories. We consider that aid organisations have a valuable role to play in supporting the Palestinians to establish effective self-governance in the West Bank and Gaza as part of the process set out in the Oslo accords.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Howe on 10 February (WA 117), how many habitual residents of the United Kingdom who have worked in another European Economic Area country are claiming jobseeker's allowance; and for how many of those the United Kingdom is seeking reimbursement from another country.[HL16136]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud): The UK's benefit payment systems do not currently record the nationality of claimants. Therefore, it is not possible to determine the actual number of claimants from the European Economic Area (EEA) who are currently claiming jobseeker's allowance.
However, the Minister for Employment, with the support of the Minister for Immigration and the Exchequer Secretary, did commission research to build the best possible picture on number of non-UK nationals claiming benefits. Statistics were produced as a result of a series of data matches between the Department for Work and Pensions, the UK Border Agency and HM Revenue and Customs on the nationality of benefit claimants at the point of registration for a national insurance number (released on 20 January 2012). These indicate that at February 2011, 371,000 (6.4%) of DWP working-age benefits claimants were non-UK
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On the number of claims for contributory jobseeker's allowance where reimbursement has been sought, records held within the International Pension Centre show that in the period from 1 May 2010 (the date when the updated EU regulations took effect) up to 31 December 2010, the UK has claimed reimbursement of the cost of paying contribution-based jobseeker's allowance from other EEA countries in three cases. These are cases where the International Pension Centre has accepted that the jobseeker remained habitually resident in the UK for the duration of their employment abroad.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): We note the Welsh Government's summary of responses to their recent White Paper consultation on proposals for organ and tissue donation in Wales. We look forward to seeing the detailed proposals when the draft Assembly Bill is published for consultation in June.
The independent Organ Donation Taskforce examined the case for moving to an opt-out system in 2008. It recommended against it, concluding that while such a system might have the potential to deliver benefits it would present significant difficulties.
Action is being taken to strengthen the donation programme and we are seeing significant improvements in donor rates. We need to give time for these improvements to be worked through fully and assess their success before looking to change the system further.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether any arrangements are in place regarding maintenance of pension rights for NHS staff who volunteer for posts in Voluntary Service Overseas training programmes in conflict-affected and fragile states such as South Sudan.[HL16251]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have made any assessment of the impact of any loss of pension rights on the level of volunteering by NHS staff to serve in Voluntary Service Overseas training programmes in conflict-affected and fragile states.[HL16252]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Any staff who volunteer for Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) are eligible to maintain their access rights to the NHS Pension Scheme for England and Wales. This can be achieved by means of an overseas direction under Section 7(2) of the Superannuation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1967, which means that staff retain membership of the scheme.
Alternatively, staff can receive additional pension credited on their return to the National Health Service, funded centrally to compensate them for NHS lost service while volunteering. There is therefore no reason why pension rights should be an issue in making a decision to volunteer for VSO.
The reason why the Government introduced the scheme to make good pensionable service forgone while working for VSO was in response to concerns that loss of pension rights may be an obstacle to volunteering.
To ask Her Majesty's Government why they do not keep records of the numbers of victims of trafficking in the United Kingdom who have made successful compensation claims, in the light of the United Kingdom's status as a signatory to the Council of Europe convention on human trafficking. [HL16185]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Victims of trafficking can receive compensation from a number of different sources and through different legal proceedings. Article 15(3) of the Council of Europe convention on human trafficking requires the United Kingdom to provide a right to seek compensation from perpetrators. This can be ordered by the courts against the perpetrator during a criminal trial, through an application under the Proceeds of Crime Act or through private litigation in tort. We do not currently compile statistics in relation to these awards.
Article 15(4) of the convention requires the state to provide compensation if the offender fails to do so. We provide compensation through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). As set out in my Answer of 18 January (column WA 129), the CICA keeps records based on the nature of the victim's injury, not the nature of the offence that caused it.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether pelargonic acid vanillylamide (PAVA) spray has been issued to police officers in England and Wales; if so, what guidance has been issued about its use (1) in crowds, and (2) in other circumstances; and what assessment they have made of its safety. [HL16309]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): CS and pelargonic acid vanillylamide (PAVA) incapacitants are approved for police use in the UK. These are in the form of a handheld spray for use by police officers and are not designed for use as a crowd-control technology. Any equipment issued to police officers is subject to very rigorous testing and would undergo a medical assessment.
The Association of Chief Police Officers has given very careful consideration to how CS and PAVA sprays should be used, and to the aftercare of people who are sprayed with it, and has issued detailed guidelines to all forces in England and Wales.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to assist refugees escaping from South Kordofan into South Sudan; what access there is for aid agencies in the areas affected; and what form any assistance will take.[HL16319]
Baroness Northover: The UK has played a leading role in supporting an effective and co-ordinated humanitarian response in South Sudan, including meeting the needs of people displaced from Southern Kordofan into South Sudan. We are currently providing assistance through support to the common humanitarian funds (CHF) in both Sudan and South Sudan.
The Government of Sudan are not allowing humanitarian access in Southern Kordofan. The UK is supporting measures put forward by the UN, African Union and Arab League to enable access to the area under a tripartite agreement. This has been received positively by the Sudanese authorities, but has not yet
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Baroness Northover: The Stabilisation Unit is assisting the UK Government through the development and coordination of cross-Whitehall conflict analysis and initial stabilisation planning; looking at what future support Syria might need from the UK and international community in order to make a political transition to an open, democratic and stable state. It has also been providing expertise on Syria and conflict-related issues, including the recent deployment of an expert team to the region to collect evidence of human rights violations committed by the Syrian regime.
To ask Her Majesty's Government on how many occasions in the past six months young women coming from court have arrived at the Josephine Butler Unit at HM Young Offender Institute Downview at 10 pm or later.[HL16265]
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Between 1 September 2011 and 29 February 2012, young women arrived at the Josephine Butler Unit at HMP/YOI Downview from court at 10 pm or later on six occasions.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how they have responded to the recommendation of HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for England and Wales in the report on the unannounced inspection of the Josephine Butler Unit at HM Young Offender Institute Downview, in February 2010 that (1) young women should not spend long periods in court cells waiting for transport to the unit after they have been sentenced, and (2) young women should not share transport with adults or young men.[HL16266]
Lord McNally: The recommendations have been incorporated into the Youth Justice Board's current contracts with escort providers. In order to reduce periods waiting in court cells, contractors are required to prioritise young women under 18 and young children for urgent return to prisons. Court waiting times are regularly monitored and any issues raised are escalated to the contractor's management for resolution.
Contracts governing the transport of young offenders now require separation of children and young people from adult prisoners and separation by gender. This applies to escort to secure establishments. This is achieved by use of a separate vehicle, or specially modified cellular vehicles that enable separation to be maintained while loading, disembarking and in transit.
Lord McNally: All unconvicted prisoners are entitled to at least three one-hour visits per week, one of which may be on a weekend. Convicted prisoners are entitled to at least two one-hour social visits in every four-week period, one of which may be on a weekend.
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